EXCLUSIVE by Joanna Halbert
DIFFERENT types of asbestos, a well-known carcinogen, have been found on the East Beach of Burry Port, on the site of the former Carmarthen Bay Power Plant, which is part of the Millennium Coastal Path.
Concerned members of the Burry Port community said over the course of several months they found suspicious asbestos-like material on the East Beach, especially in areas subject to the highest levels of erosion coastal.
The members, who have now formed the “Burry Port Anti-Asbestos Action Group”, report having contacted a number of different agencies to raise the issue. However, they say they only received a limited number of responses, with the common response being to contact another agency.
A Group member told Herald.Wales: “We haven’t received responses from some agencies although we have sent them a lot of emails and the responses we have received from some are not at all helpful. None of them want to take responsibility. “
“Natural Resources Wales told us that they were not responsible for the Millennium Coastal Park and that we had to deal with Carmarthenshire County Council.
“Carmarthenshire County Council told us it was Natural Resources Wales, not them.”
The Group, frustrated by the lack of action taken by various agencies, independently paid for professional sample testing to be carried out on the wall materials on the east coast of the beach.
The various laboratory results of their samples were processed quickly and confirmed their fears. The samples identified two different types of asbestos. Reports show the presence of both “chrysotile asbestos,” commonly referred to as white asbestos, and “crocidolite asbestos,” also known as blue asbestos.
Group members and other local people believe the asbestos came from the remains of the Carmarthen Bay power station, which was demolished in 1991. The power station was owned by the Central Electricity Generating Board. It was built in 1947 on the grounds of the old copper factory with power generation between 1953 and 1984. It was a large employer in the area during its peak period.
A source with a high level of local knowledge, including from the old station, said there were tons of asbestos, including the most dangerous blue and brown types, buried in sacks under the path of the East beach, near a skateboard park used by children.
The mayor and deputy mayor of Burry Port were briefed on the results and provided support and assistance to the Group.
Speaking to Deputy Mayor Councilor Michael Theodoulou on the report’s findings, he said: “I am furious. Think it’s here, on our local beach, these days.
“How did we get to this position?
“I’m not just mad at this, I’m mad!”
“The school is right there and we recently had 70 mph winds that could easily take it away.
“I don’t want unnecessary excuses anymore, something must be done now”.
Both types of asbestos found on the East Beach pose a health risk, but the blue form of asbestos is considered a significant health hazard.
Carmarthenshire County Council issued a statement on Monday. Public protection board member Philip Hughes said in the statement:
“We acted on reports of sightings of materials likely to contain asbestos on a small part of the beach between Burry Port and Pwll.
“It is in an area where some remains of the power station that was demolished in the 1990s are uncovered by coastal erosion.
“While we can be assured that the material – even though it contains asbestos – poses very little risk due to the humid conditions in the area, we advise people to leave the material alone.”
Councilor Peter Hughes Griffiths, member of the Executive Council for Culture, Sport and Tourism, added a statement:
“Pending imminent specialist advice, we will continue to monitor the beach as part of our routine inspections and take all necessary actions as we become aware, including localized advisories.”
Asbestos was commonly used during the construction process to insulate buildings, pipes, boilers, and as cement for roofs and pipes.
It was used until the late 1990s in the UK. People have been and can be unintentionally exposed to asbestos in their homes, jobs and communities.
If products containing asbestos are disturbed, the fibers of it can then break and be released into the environment. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can enter the lungs, which over time can cause inflammation, which can affect breathing and lead to various serious terminal health issues such as pleural plaques, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. .
A report by the International Asbestos Ban Secretariat commissioned in 2001 included alarming findings that between 1997 and 2001, research showed that there were 108 asbestos-related deaths in Carmarthenshire.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with a work-related illness and worked in the old power plant, please contact us confidentially.